The Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program delivers on the Rudd Government’s election commitment to support Australian small businesses and increase workforce productivity and participation.
The program will invest $12 million over three years to encourage small businesses to implement practices that help employees balance their work and family obligations as well as improve employee retention and productivity.
This new national initiative will be progressively introduced from July 2008 when small businesses will be able to apply for funding assistance. The full program will be up and running from 1 January 2010.
As part of the $12 million commitment, the program will provide grants of $5 000 to $15 000 to small businesses to help meet the set-up costs of family friendly working arrangements. The grants will support a range of initiatives, including:
- establishing rosters based on school terms and alternative core hours, for example, 10 am to 3 pm;
- developing workplace policies on unpaid leave for carers and workers who have children with disability or other special needs;
- providing facilities for employees with young children such as family rooms; and
- setting up workplace mentoring.
With up to $15 000 available per small business, the Government is also encouraging innovative proposals that suit the individual needs of the business to promote a diverse range of family friendly initiatives.
The new program will be administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The Department will ensure that business and industry specific information supporting work-based family friendly practices is widely distributed. It will also ensure experts are available in each state/territory office of Fair Work Australia to provide support for small businesses seeking to implement family friendly arrangements in their workplace.